How 5G will impact the future of work will be explained in this article. The first smartphones designed to communicate with 5G networks are Apple’s newest iPhone models, which were unveiled in mid-October. Everyone, everywhere will have access to fast internet without wifi thanks to 5G, the most recent significant advancement in cellular communication.
The effects are far-reaching. According to Will Knight of the MIT Technology Review, “[5G] is going to have a big impact on all sorts of industries, from manufacturing to robotics to even self-driving cars.”
What impact will 5G have on work in the future? I discovered forecasts that 5G will result in employment growth, better jobs, and less economic inequality in reports from think tanks and talks from subject matter experts.
An extremely brief intro to 5G
The promise of 5G is essentially WiFi-speed internet access wherever there is cell coverage (you could, for example, download a two-hour movie in seconds).
Mobile networks have reached their “fifth iteration,” or 5G.
A “suite of enabling technologies for ubiquitous connectivity” is how Muriel Médard, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, defines 5G informally.
Since 2019, cellular service companies have been expanding and improving their cellular networks by upgrading their antennas, cell towers, and frequency ranges.
Current 5G connections have much reduced latency and are 20% faster than 4G LTE connections.
Widespread 5G marks a significant change in connectivity for most of the US, considering that 39% of rural Americans do not have any access to the internet and that only 65% of Americans have home internet that is fast enough for Zoom.
Some writers advise readers to moderate their expectations.
Brian X. Chen issued a warning immediately following the iPhone announcement that the majority of Americans won’t soon experience lightning-fast speeds due to 5G’s current technological limitations.
Three ways 5G is likely to impact the future of work
In a recent report, the Progressive Policy Institute made predictions about the impact of 5G on American labour over the following 15 years.
By the end of 2020, PPI anticipates that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will be “heading towards national 5G networks.”
They contend—and we concur—that the demand for faster internet connectivity, including 5G, has increased due to the prevalence of remote work.
1. More jobs
A catalyst for the next economic revolution, according to CNBC, is 5G.
The internet of things (IoT) is expected to advance considerably as a result of 5G, according to Bloomberg’s Nico Grant.
The proliferation of “smart” factories is one clear consequence.
Currently, data is sent and received by factory equipment over sluggish, unreliable networks with high latency.
Internet, WiFi, and 4G LTE are likely to be replaced by 5G, making the purchase and installation of robots more affordable.
The end outcome will probably be more automated, smarter factories.
A new Ericsson plant in Lewisville, Texas, for instance, has undergone transformation thanks to 5G.
There, remote pilots use 5G to remotely control automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and drones, and on-site workers are assisted by remote support staff via augmented reality.
The data reveals that there isn’t a clear correlation between automation and employment and wages, despite the pervasive worry that it will result in wage decreases and job losses in the US.
That’s because, despite the fact that automation does eliminate some employment, it also generates new ones.
According to PPI, technological advancements made possible by 5G are expected to result in an increase in overall employment, not a decrease.
They predict that 5G and associated technologies will generate 4.6 million more jobs than the economy would have on its own 15 years after networks first introduced 5G in 2019.
They highlight the fact that, as of April/May 2020, businesses had generated 106,000 jobs just by deploying 5G.
According to PPI, 5G will greatly increase employment in the following sectors: Government, Healthcare, Social Assistance, Manufacturing, Transportation, and Warehousing.
Even though more automation is likely to contribute to an increase in jobs overall, McKinsey warns that it could also “widen existing disparities between high-growth cities and struggling rural areas, as well as between high-wage employees and everyone else.”
2. Better jobs
Additionally, PPI anticipates that the employment brought about by 5G will pay more than those that we’ll probably lose to automation.
The authors claim that the creation of 5G jobs is “in a significant way a countervailing force to the job destruction from automation and globalisation, and vitally important in the post-COVID world.”
The chief information officer of Zendesk, Colleen Berube, stated that automation is a top priority for her organisation “at every step.”
She anticipates that automation of routine tasks will allow employees to devote more time to “higher order work,” such as analysis, strategic thinking, and creativity.
In order to make 5G a reality, engineers and software writers will be in particularly high demand.
At the end of April, 50,000 job postings were examined nationally, and 0.6% of them contained the phrase “5G.”
“Engineer, Principal 5G Systems,” “Wireless Core Engineer,” and “5G Wireless SME / Senior Systems Engineer Level 6” were some of the titles listed in employment advertisements in late April and early May 2020.
3. Reduced inequality
America has the greatest level of economic inequality among the G7 countries, and it is rising.
In contrast to other comparable nations, economic mobility in the US has been stagnant (or decreasing) for decades.
High-skill workers like software developers receive the overwhelming majority of newly created high-paying jobs.
According to Andrew McAfee, “Technologies have replaced employees on the shop floor, in clerical work, and in rote information processing.”
“In contrast, big data, analytics, and high-speed communications have increased the productivity and value of individuals with engineering, creative, and design abilities.
The demand for low-skilled information workers has decreased overall, while the demand for highly skilled employees has increased.
According to PPI, 5G will produce “mixed ‘cognitive-physical’ skilled positions,” which do not neatly fit into the categories of higher-paying “white collar” or lower-paying “blue collar” jobs.
To apply and link the sensors that power 5G for physical industries, such as agriculture, energy, construction, manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare, we will need installers and maintainers.
According to the PPI authors, productivity gains from digitization will boost profits, improve the quality of jobs, and boost sectors like manufacturing, construction, and healthcare’s ability to compete globally.
However, they also assert that increases in efficiency will result in faster wage growth.
However, that study appears to ignore how productivity and wage growth have diverged since the 1980s in America.
How to prepare for a 5G world
It’s a good idea to maintain your tech skills even if 5G will lead to better quality jobs that are open to workers of all skill levels.
Berube said Zendesk is always searching for candidates with both domain expertise and technical proficiency when asked how 5G and automation impact hiring decisions.
Hard abilities are “table stakes” when Pure Storage evaluates applicants, Southwick agreed with Berube.
Also sought after are employees with “hybrid capabilities.”
A hardware engineer who can also create software, for instance.
Additionally, it’s critical to maintain brain flexibility and stay current with emerging technologies.
Berube stated, “We’ve improved how we think about hiring to also include soft abilities.”
Zendesk is searching for employees who are adaptable to change and creative problem solvers.